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Archive for May, 2013

The blog post I wrote yesterday, and posted earlier today, can, in a way, be summed up by this quote that appeared on my calendar today:

Recognizing and confronting our history is important. Transcending our history is essential. We are not limited by what we have done, or what we have left undone. We are limited only by what we are willing to do.
— George W. Bush

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In my attempts to de-clutter my e-mail (a monumental undertaking since I’m an e-mail hoarder!), I came across this sage advice. Maybe hoarding e-mail is not so bad after-all…?

A little background. This is part of an e-mail I wrote to a then-pen pal of mine. Most of my life I’ve lived in Michigan. When I wrote this I was in New Jersey. I moved there after I became engaged to a man who lived in New Jersey. I originally met him on an online dating service. I went to visit him and his family in May 2000. He came to visit me and my family in October 2000. That’s when he proposed. I moved to New Jersey in December 2000.

Before I took the leap and got on that plane to move out there, I wrote this poem:

The Road of Life
We all walk down
the road of life
blindly
having faith
that through the
twists and turns
and forks in the road
the path we choose
will lead our souls
to an ultimate happiness
unbounded.

In March 2001, my fiancé broke off the engagement.

This e-mail excerpt was written in June 2001.

The e-mail to my then-pen pal (later we dated some when I got back to Michigan) was an attempt at a “get to know me/my family/where I’m coming from” kinda thing. A previous paragraph expressed the negativity of my family after they learned of our relationship (my then-pen pal was Brazilian-American, but as far as my family was concerned he was a “dirty Mexican” Sigh!). Another paragraph expressed the attempts by my ex to give me dating advice. (Yes, really!)

Here’s the (edited) excerpt:

Before, yes, I was the type to cave in to my family and did what they thought I should do and think. After all, when you get negativity all your life, you think that your feelings and ideas don’t matter. But, getting away from that, and living on my own, and handling xxxx, and the rest on my own gave me a re-newed sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. I took my life into my own hands, and well, I did pretty good, if you look beyond the narrow “xxxx’s a jerk and I was crazy for falling in love with him” thing. (Which I know that most of my family members can’t see past.) xxxx was a means to an end. An end that I can’t get to if the detour didn’t take me away from my family and to New Jersey. I truly believe that. And truly, my heart, God, and my life took me here. It’s not like I’m starving, it’s not like I’m homeless, it’s not like I’m penniless, and I still have a secure job*. Like I’ve been saying all along, I gained much more in the walking of the path, than I would’ve by staying cooped up, miserable and alone, …. And, even if no-one else in my family sees it, I know that I am a better person for all that’s happened and that I shouldn’t be afraid of wisely following my heart.

I was reading in my Oprah Magazine an article that expresses my past year’s life so “right on the nose” so to speak. It’s amazing. It even brings up those people in the author’s life that criticized her for following her heart and taking a risk, and she brings up some pretty good perspective on the matter. She writes:

“Whatever your circumstance, people will start to give you advice as soon as you disturb the status quo. That advice is likely to be bad. It will be bad because they are seeking not to understand and further your calling but to preserve the world as they know it. And yet, in the midst of the shouting and the falling masonry you will know with an unusual quietness that it is happening in the only way that it can, and that whichever way it turns out, no matter what suffering you endure, it will be all right. There in the midst of the cyclone, is the peace that passes understanding.”

She also says that … if you try to tend to your needs, you are looked on as selfish. (That was [a certain family member’s] argument for me not moving out here, that I was being selfish). But, I agree with this statement she says: “Far from being a display of selfishness, this is the most compassionate act you can do for anyone: to stand by the truth of your own life and live it as fully and passionately as you are able.”

This is actually the entire poem that she wrote, which brought tears to my eyes, because this literally is my life. And, it began that day that I stepped on the plane for the first time in May 2000:

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But, little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

*Thanks to Monique and Arsen for letting me follow my heart!

And, thank you to my friends who stood by me throughout it all!

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Perhaps there should be an RDA (recommended daily allowance) of poetry, just as there is an RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for vitamins and minerals? Vitamins and minerals nourish our body. Poetry nourishes our soul.

When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.
— John F. Kennedy

Some in our society may need a higher dose, however.

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And Yet…

I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.
— Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901)

Our 23rd President, Benjamin Harrison, lived more than 100 years ago. And yet, in 2013, his words, I believe, still resonate with many. Especially in light of the tragedies in Bangladesh from two weeks ago, and from yesterday.

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